Saturday, October 1, 2016

Journalism is over

But journalism schools are not. Not yet, anyway.

Sooner or later the young keeners who want to become the next Oriana Fallaci or I.F. Stone will have to face a new reality. There is no place in contemporary journalism for that kind of reportage.

Me and the Farm Manager travelled to Port Elgin today for Pumpkinfest. We go for the cars, not the pumpkins. It costs five bucks to see the pumpkins. The cars are free. It's one of the finest free car shows you'll ever get anywhere.

Thirty years ago I was doing a bit of writing for my college paper, the Ontarion. Interviewed the President of the Ontario Veterinary College for a story. By the time I got home there was a message on my answering machine from his secretary; he'd like to see the story before it came out. As in he'd "like to see" it or else.

Or else what?

He was the top dog at the most prestigious school at U of Goo.

I was a dumbshit undergrad with writerly pretensions.

He wore a Rolex.

I wore a Timex.

Or else what do you think?

Big turn-out of vintage muscle cars today, and also a lot of old pick-ups. My spirits were buoyed by the FM's attraction to a number of fifty's era trucks. I can almost see myself bringing home a mid-fifties hot-rodded F-100 and getting away with it...


Nice turn out of sixties and seventies muscle cars; Super Bees, Road Runners, and so forth. What a shame that you can go to your local Subaru dealer and buy a car off the lot that will smoke those "muscle cars" in the quarter mile, never mind what they'll do to you in a corner.

There were a number of big block Chevys on display, including a supercharged Chevelle with wheelie bars. You can go to your local Dodge dealer and order up a four-door Dodge Charger that will leave your supercharged Chevelle with its wheelie bars twenty car-lengths behind in a drag race.

On the way home I stopped at the Korean variety store and picked up my Saturday Globe and Mail for $5.25. Joked with the guy behind the counter about when it might become a six dollar newspaper.

Probably next month, we agreed.

When I related that exchange to the FM, she rejoindered, "journalism is over."

And she's right.

Would Bernstein or Woodward get past their unpaid internship today? Or Seymour Hersh? I doubt it.

Helen Thomas had a great thing going till she ran afoul of the winds of political correctitude.

If those winds are strong enough to silence a veteran journo like her, imagine how they must intimidate some newbie hoping to impress on her unpaid internship.

We've still got a few folks speaking truth to power. Gideon Levy and Robert Fisk come to mind. But by and large the media space is now occupied by complacent and compliant J-school grads who will tweet and blog and Facebook according to their employers expectations.

The Farm Manager was right.

Journalism is over.

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